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The Unspeakable Oath 23
by Todd S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/23/2013 13:13:04
Awesome product, with amazing content issue after issue. Cold Dead Hand, the adventure in this issue is most deadly.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Unspeakable Oath 23
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The Sense of the Sleight-of-Hand Man: A Dreamlands Campaign for Call of Cthulhu
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/21/2013 06:51:52
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/08/21/tabletop-review-the-sen-
se-of-sleight-of-hand-man-call-of-cthulhu/

The Sense of Sleight of Hand Man is a Call of Cthulhu campaign that takes place in the Dreamlands. It was originally funded by 403 Kickstarter backers and was scheduled for September 2012. Well, things spiraled out of control and what was to be a 128 page book ended up becoming a nearly three hundred page one and was released in July of this year – almost a year late. Personally, I’ll take a book a year late if I’m getting more than DOUBLE THE CONTENT for the money I paid for it, especially when the content is quite good.

Although labeled as a Dreamlands campaign, The Sense of Sleight of Hand Man is probably more accurately described as a campaign setting. There aren’t any actually adventures in this massive tome. Instead the book highlights a bunch of options for characters to engage in all around the dreamlands. It’s more a collection of plot hooks and story threads than a set of interlinked adventures, but Arc Dream calls it a campaign so just be aware of that fact if you were looking for something more like Masks of Nyarlathotep or Horror on the Orient Express. The Sense of Sleight of Hand Man is nothing like your typical Call of Cthulhu campaign, or a campaign for any setting really. It’s closest to the Shadowrun books Catalyst Game Labs puts out where you have twenty or so rough adventure outlines where the DM (or Keeper in this case) has to really flesh things out to make them playable. Now that doesn’t make SoSoHM a bad book – far from it! You just have to be aware that the Keeper has a lot of work ahead of them and must craft the adventures themselves rather than rely on the book for such a thing. As such, The Sense of Sleight of Hand Man is definitely best in the hands of a VERY experienced Keeper, especially one who has made their own homebrew adventures before.

The hook for The Sense of Sleight of Hand Man is that all the player characters are down on their luck opium addicts. The person who supplies their opium has decided to get their payment by hook or by crook and ends up sending the PCs to the Dreamlands. Unlike most cases where an Investigator’s dream self has been transported and keeps the same stats throughout, in this campaign the bodies and souls of the characters are merged, transported to the Dreamlands and implanted in human cadavers. Thus players will more than likely have very different physical stats in the Dreamlands than they had on earth and could even end up as a different gender. Character creation is also a little different where players will have higher than normal POW and lower that usual starting SAN. They will also gain extra skill and attribute points too. With all this extra buffing for the Investigators and the overwhelming amount of magic and magical items the players can get their hands on in this campaign, The Sense of Sleight of Hand Man almost feels like a D&D-esque Monty Haul campaign at times. It’s not a bad thing and all these little changes add up to make this campaign really stand out, even from other Dreamlands releases for Call of Cthulhu. Some purists may poo-poo the higher stat characters and the sheer glut of magical power a character can amass in this campaign but others will get a kick out of it. It’s just a matter of finding the right audience for this tome.

There is so much content in The Sense of Sleight of Hand Man, it’s all but impossible to talk about it all. The campaign covers every major location, denizen and race Lovecraft ever wrote about in the Dreamlands. You’ll encounter everyone from Randolph Carter to aspects of Nyarlathotep. In fact, the crux of the campaign is defeating the Crawling Chaos (or at least his minions and machinations) and finally finding a way back to Earth. However, that will take many play sessions for that climatic ending to occur, if it ever does. The book is extremely open ended and there is no set order for events to occur save for the initial setup in an opium den. In some ways this resembles a sandbox or open world video game, which is awesome for the players to experience, but it means the Keeper has copious amounts of work to do to make the campaign flow smoothly. The keeper will have to constantly be taken notes in regards to where the players have been, who they have met, what events have unfolded and the like. The vast majority of people who like to run Call of Cthulhu games, even gigantic published adventures may find the layout and format of The Sense of Sleight of Hand Man to chaotic and/or daunting to even try and properly run for their players. For example, The Ten Thousand Steps that lead to the Underworld and the start of events there are brought up on page 44, but then are not mentioned again until page 72. So the layout and order in which things are written could have used some tightening. In some ways, The Sense of Sleight of Hand Man feels like it was edited for grammar and diction, but not for flow. Again, this is one of just MANY examples of how Keepers will have to take notes and spend a dozen, if not dozens of hours taking notes and writing down how best to make this campaign flow. Otherwise it will just fall apart and leave everyone who encounters it with a bad taste in their mouth. Please don’t think this is me poo-poo’ing the book. Rather, this is a warning of how labor intensive The Sense of Sleight of Hand Man will be. Again, this is less an adventure or even a campaign as it is a campaign setting with a set beginning and end, but nothing but hooks and possibilities in between. It’s going to take a VERY specific Keeper to make this work, but for those that play The Sense of Sleight of Hand Man under them, the end result will be a very fun, memorable and awesome gaming experience.

With a current price tag of less than twenty dollars, The Sense of Sleight of Hand Man is well worth picking up, even if you don’t bother to ever play. It’s simply a fun (but sometimes dry or even dull) read and is an obvious labour of love that showcases how awesome the Dreamlands can be. This one purchase will provide enough adventures for your Call of Cthulhu players to last them months or even over a year depending on how much they explore the “landscape.” It’s definitely not for everyone and for many Keepers, the work you have to put in won’t be worth the return you get, but for a very dedicated and detailed Keeper, The Sense of Sleight of Hand Man is arguably the best tabletop release to ever showcase this lesser used Cthulhu Mythos setting.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Sense of the Sleight-of-Hand Man: A Dreamlands Campaign for Call of Cthulhu
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Better Angels
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/16/2013 06:37:28
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/08/16/tabletop-review-better--
angels/

Written by Greg Stolze, Better Angels is the newest game from Arc Dream Publishing and uses the One Role Engine or O.R.E for short. I am, unquestionably, a fan of superheroes and the comic book genre in general so this game is right up my alley. If it has a cape and a fancy leotard, then there is a good chance I have read it. This type of idea has always held a place in my heart. The battle of Good vs. Evil, the mighty powers and city-smashing brawls have added spark to my imagination for as long as I can remember. Of course there was also the desire to play the black hearted villain, and the idea of being the foil to the hero always intrigued me.

Better Angels is definitely not a game based around constantly doing the “right thing” or living a life of Truth and Liberty. It is a game about dealing with your inner demon (literally) while exploring the limits of your ill-gotten powers. As one begins to read this PDF they are greeted by a several page story that begins to give you a feel for the setting. This part is followed up by a description of real world EVIL versus the over-the-top EEEVIL of Better Angels.

It is at this point that, at least for me, problems arise. The most basic precept of the game is the use of Strategies and Tactics that work to represent the internal conflict between the human host and the demonic force that inhabits them. This is where things start to get complicated. While the Strategies and Tactics are not directly tied in with the dice mechanic, it figures in incredibly heavily into the character concept. It is nice to see that the struggle between the demon and human side of the character is emphasized, but it just feels too complicated for me.

The thing one learns as they continue reading, is that the Player is not the one that controls or even creates their demon. During character creation the choices for each characters demon are made by the Player sitting to their immediate left. Once play begins, it is this same Player that controls their friend’s demon.

Now, while this is a great idea in theory, I can’t help but wonder how many problems this could cause in a group. I know from experience that there are players out there that enjoy making things difficult for the others at the table. Aside from that I worry about players who don’t fully understand the interaction rules, or simply don’t care, are not going to get the most out of this game. I understand that this is a group-to-group situation, but I feel that it is important enough to mention.

The mechanics of Better Angels are easy to understand and will be familiar to anyone with experience with this company’s games. These mechanics do a good job of representing chance while still allowing for versatility in actions and consequences. Additionally there is a section that details what should and shouldn’t be rolled on.

The next session goes into great detail about how to use the variety of Strategies and Tactics and how they can be used in different combinations to achieve different effects. This does go a long way towards helping to add further layers to the conflict between the character’s internal struggles. Unfortunately this can make things even more confusing to novice Players and Game Masters.

The list of powers is compact but does an excellent job of detailing what the different demonic abilities are. There are enough of them to create different types of characters which I do believe is an important feature in any game representing super-hero activities.

Admittedly there is more to the game than I have written about. It would be impossible to truly expound on every bit of Better Angels without making this review insanely long. All in all I admire the writer’s work and his obvious love of the genre, but for me it misses the mark. This game, while well represented, will be difficult for many readers to understand and get the “feel” of.

I understand that while this game may not be for everyone it will certainly fill the niche for some. Those who really enjoy in-depth characters, with all manner of repercussions for their actions will find this game enjoyable. Those who want a quick and easy supers-game will be better served to look elsewhere.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Better Angels
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The Unspeakable Oath 23
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/14/2013 06:40:31
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/08/14/tabletop-review-the-uns-
peakable-oath-issue-23-call-of-cthulhu/

So here we are with another issue of The Unspeakable Oath, my favorite, albeit sporadically published, gaming magazine. It’s getting better though as this is the third issue in a row where we’ve had it published in six month increments. The bad news is that this issue has far less articles than previous ones, but the good news is that at eighty pages, this is the highest page count an issue of The Unspeakable Oath has had in years. Both of these traits are because the issue contains a very long and highly detailed adventure that takes up the majority of the pages. I’m more than fine with that as a) the adventure is exceptional, b) it’s a Delta Green adventure and it’s always nice to see that line still supported and c) you are getting a full length CoC adventure for the cost of two comic books AND extra articles, so I think that’s a pretty fine deal, don’t you? Now let’s take a look at our articles for this issue and show you why any horror roleplaying game fan from Chill to Call of Cthulhu will get their money’s worth out of this magazine.

1. “The Dread Page of Azathoth.” This is Shane Ivey’s Editorial column and in this issue he talks about how too many Call of Cthulhu games are about violence and horror rather than terror. He echoes the words of the original AD&D Ravenloft campaign setting in explaining the difference between horror (gore and revulsion) and terror (fear, the unknown and unknowable) and how he feels Call of Cthulhu should be the latter but too often it turns into the former. I’m in complete agreement with him in that terror, specifically cosmic terror should be the focus of a good Call of Cthulhu adventure and while horror has its place and usefulness, that underlying notion of terror is present in the best and most memorable of adventures. I know I myself am worried about CoC 7e in this same way, especially after perusing and reviewing the Quick Start Rules as it too seems to be taking a focus on a more combat oriented and horror based feel rather than the cosmic terror we really felt in editions 1-5 (and sporadically in 6). This was a great read and a reminder of the difference between something like say, Masks of Nyarlathotep and ugh…Dark Corners of the Earth.

2. “Tale of Terror: Code Adam.” A Tale of Terror is a short one page plot hook with three possible options for fleshing the idea into a full fledged adventure. I always like these because even if I don’t like one of the options, there are always two others that may germinate in my imagination and become something to throw at my Investigators. In this case, I really liked the plot hook but none of the fleshing out options. The first feels more like a short story than an adventure I could do anything with. The second just felt stupid to me and doesn’t really mesh with the encounter and the third is a bit too blasé and it also doesn’t fit with the encounter. It’s an extremely creepy encounter, though, and I really enjoy it, but I’d have to create my own fourth option to truly make it work.

3. “The Eye of Light and Darkness.” This is the one section I always have had issue with in the past, mainly because this review compilation either features things too old for a review or the reviews are too brief to be of any value. The good news is that a) the reviews are very long and detailed this time and b) they even reviewed a brand new product in Yellow Dawn 2.5 which wasn’t even officially out by the time this issue of TUO came out. Very well done here. At the same time, they review, say, Miskatonic, a game most adventure game sites covered a year ago and the movie House of Black Wings which is over three years old. These pages could have been better used for reviewing brand new products or even previewing recent or upcoming releases. Arc Dream just released The Sense of Sleight of Hand Man and as this is an Arc Dream publication as well, they could have easily reviewed or previewed it to help spread the word and maybe even sell a few copies. Still, the review section gets better with each passing issue in terms of quality and timeliness of the products looked at, and that’s what counts.

4. “Cold Dead Hand.” This is your only adventure for the issue but it’s a mammoth one and a truly excellent choice as well. Players will be taking on the role of a Soviet Special Forces unit the day after Mikhail Gorbachev was forcibly removed from power. No, Gorby wasn’t attacked by the servants of a Great Old One, nor was he a servant himself. Instead this time of chaos and upheaval in the USSR is used by a group of dissidents to take over a Perimeter locations in Siberia from which nuclear weapons can be launched. The Investigators are sent in the midst of a massive blizzard to take back the location, turn the “Dead Hand” site off and prevent a potential nuclear war from breaking out. Sound exciting, right? Well it is. It doesn’t sound very Lovecraftian though, does it? Well, the core plot premise I’ve given you here isn’t, but this is Delta Green after all, so rest assured cosmic forces beyond out understanding do play a part in the happenings. This adventure is as fun to read as it is to play through and I love the slow burn from just a Top Secret style adventure into full blown Mythos madness. This adventure alone is well worth the cover price and the fact you get all the other great articles on top of it is just eldritch gravy.

5. “Building an Elder God.” These are some alternate head and body parts for the print and play card game of the same name. I didn’t really care for the game and these pieces are only useful if you buy the game from sites like DrivethruRPG.com. I can say that the pieces included here don’t print very well and graphically they’re not very good so this is really the only “article” in this issue I didn’t care for.

6. “Tale of Terror: The Funeral.” This is another one page story seed with three possible options for a Keeper to run with. In this case, the PCs are attending a funeral where the corpse sits up and begins talking. Apparently he wasn’t actually dead! I loved all three options although the third is by far my favorite and the one that you could feasibly get several adventures worth of fun out of. There is a lot of potential to be had with this one.

7. “Tale of Terror: The Watchers.” I didn’t care for this one as much. Basically the Investigators are being shadowed, but by who…or what? The first one can be fun if used as a minor plot thread laced throughout several adventures, I just flat out didn’t care for the second and the third can be either awesome or a train wreck, depending on the keeper. This “Tale of Terror” is still a good one; just not AS good as “The Funeral.”

8. “Unconventional Firearms.” Well, this article is a bit ironic considering the editorial that started this issue off, but it’s quite well written too. It gives examples of disguised weapons, ranging from the classic sword cane to a fountain pen gun, improved weaponry and even select pocket firearms including a derringer the size of a quarter. You get a nice little chart listing all the weapons too. It’s a fun read, but also a reminder that too many players focus on weaponry instead of deduction and induction.

9. “Directives From A-Cell: Directive 110: The Bear is Back.” This issue’s A-Cell article is a follow-up to the “Cold Dead Hand” adventure we looked at earlier. Basically it’s an update of the GRU-SV8 organization and how it would be changed since communism fell and leaders like Yeltsin and later Putin came into power. It’s a fun read and highlights some pretty dramatic changes in the organization while also modernizing bits of Delta Green for the current era. For those still playing Delta Green, this is a wonderful read.

10. “The Last Self Portrait of Larissa Dolkhov.” What a truly wonderful little piece. While the subject of the article, a sentient painting feels more Chambers than Lovecraft, this is a truly excellent idea that is not only creepy, but perfect for a solo adventure between a Keeper and a player for when you can’t get an entire party together.

11. “Message In a Bottle: Beasts.” This is the cursory one page short story than ends every issue of The Unspeakable Oath. I’ve yet to find one enjoyable and this was no exception. I’d rather see the page go to an article about gaming. I can get bad fiction anywhere. It’s the age of the Internet after all.

All in all, issue #23 of The Unspeakable Oath is another wonderful read and well worth the asking price. If you’re a fan of horror tabletop gaming and especially Call of Cthulhu, then you really should be picking these magazines up. Better yet, Arc Dream Publushing is currently doing a subscription drive for the magazine. If you subscribe you not only get the issues of The Unspeakable Oath at a discount, but you’ll also get freebies like short stories and exclusive adventures. Now a great deal has somehow become even better. Crazy. So yes, I’m a big fan of The Unspeakable Oath and I’m hoping we get to see issue #24 before the end of the year.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Unspeakable Oath 23
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The Sense of the Sleight-of-Hand Man: A Dreamlands Campaign for Call of Cthulhu
by Larry H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/05/2013 23:35:46
This document is the best I've seen on the Dreamlands. It keeps the Dreamlands mysterious and fantastic while at the same time underscoring the horrific and terrible nature of the realm. Too many depictions I've read either play up the place like a pure fantasy land, akin to Melibone or Hyperborea, in order to interject some lightheartedness into the mythos, or focus solely on the horrific aspects of things like the gugs or moonbeasts. Instead the authors develop both aspects equally, never letting the wonder and horror overpower the other overall. Individual moments within the campaign will emphasize one or the other, but the aggregate demonstrates the horror in beauty and the wonder of terror.
As a game supplement, the book is written well. The text is clear and easy to understand while remaining evocative and inspiring. The layout of the text is conducive to easy and quick reading and the artwork adds wonderfully to the atmosphere. So far, I think my favorite is an image of Nyarlathotep as the black pharaoh.
While this is written and published by the same guys responsible for the wonderful Delta Green books, this campaign fits well into any Call of Cthulhu campaign, with or without Delta Green, and the material inside is usable as source and reference material for any campaign which will involve the Dreamlands in any capacity.
A must buy for fans of Lovecraft's Mythos.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Sense of the Sleight-of-Hand Man: A Dreamlands Campaign for Call of Cthulhu
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The Sense of the Sleight-of-Hand Man: A Dreamlands Campaign for Call of Cthulhu
by Kris L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/26/2013 12:51:13
A great campaign! Dennis takes us to a place few adventures have, the dreamlands, and shows us that it is both a place of great beauty and terrible nightmares all at once. It does require an experienced gamemaster who can predict his players to a degree and who can put enough prep time in so that they aren't flipping pages trying to figure out where the info they need is. It is very open, similar to video games like Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto, in-so-far as it doesn't railroad the players but this can make things a bit more difficult for the gm. If you love Call of Cthulhu and love the Dreamlands this is an adventure you don't wanna miss.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Sense of the Sleight-of-Hand Man: A Dreamlands Campaign for Call of Cthulhu
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/22/2013 03:28:27
One of the most interesting premises for a Cthulhu campaign I've read in a while. Yet to play it, but it's definitely a book you can read easily enough and it's littered with original ideas.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia
by Martin P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/11/2013 16:11:29
I really cannot review this item. I found no way to open this item up, so I cannot review it. If anyone has any hints on how to open it. I would love to hear it.

Thanks,

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia
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Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/02/2013 02:03:28
There was never much doubt that I’d love an A-to-Z summary of characters, creatures, places, tomes, and so on from H. P. Lovecraft’s influential corpus of weird fiction and related works inspired by Lovecraft’s story world(s)—and Dan Harms delivers in spades. I have only used the ePub version within iBooks on an iPad, so I can’t speak to the other formats. But the ePub version works great. The essay that the beginning on the origins and scope of the “Cthulhu Mythos” is quite valuable, too. Any Lovecraft aficionado or Cthulhu-curious reader will appreciate this book.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Better Angels (ePub Edition)
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/31/2013 10:46:04
I have been pretty stubborn when it comes to my superhero RPGs. Unlike fantasy RPGs, I just could not see where, as far as systems would go, the genre can go. Arc Dream Publishing emphasizes that there is plenty of room for Growth with Better Angels, a truly unique take on the Superhero RPG

Why This Book IS Iron
Better Angels has a lot of things very similar to other superhero systems. It has a quick and easy your roll versus my roll conflict mechanic and a small amount of stats and powers to make conflict resolution quick. Better Angels is a game where the players play villains, but even that is possible with most superhero RPGs.

What other superhero rpgs do not have is Better Angel’s character creation system. In most RPGs, each player builds their own character. In Better Angels, players create their character as a group, with players adjacent to you helping to designing major aspects of your character. Each player designs and implements the good parts of their character. However, the player next to him adds in all the vile, evil and awful things about the character. This unique character creation makes playing Better Angels a blast. The player next to you plays out the demon in you, and your character is always in conflict with this character. This weird game play makes for a fun game where you feel like you are arguing with yourself and attempting to push your own limits.

Outside of the actual game play, it should not be overlooked that the players are playing evil characters, and the book goes to great lengths to make sure players are playing comic book evil and not real life evil. The advice provided and campaign structure aids really help bridge the difficult gap it takes to run and play in an evil campaign. Because of the fun nature of Better Angels, the whole system feels more breezy than it actual is.

At 178 pages, book is pretty light for a single campaign book, a nice feature when you’re introducing a truly new system. The layout is spectacular, with everything from bookmarks to table of content fully linked and neatly organized. The art is gritty, but still possess that Iron Age of comics vibrant color look.

What is NOT Iron
The character creation can take a bit of time, and its important to make sure that each player understand the rules. There’s an example in the book of a player who just glossed over the system and ended up screwing over himself and making a less “conflicted” player next to him.

The Iron Word
Comic book fans who want to taste villainy in a system that is built for the bad guy should try out Better Angels. Character creation is a bit lengthy, but its worth it to play a character who is always fighting against his nature to lose control. I would love to see a system like this in a fantasy setting or as a supplement for other systems.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Better Angels (ePub Edition)
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Better Angels
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/31/2013 10:45:47
I have been pretty stubborn when it comes to my superhero RPGs. Unlike fantasy RPGs, I just could not see where, as far as systems would go, the genre can go. Arc Dream Publishing emphasizes that there is plenty of room for Growth with Better Angels, a truly unique take on the Superhero RPG

Why This Book IS Iron
Better Angels has a lot of things very similar to other superhero systems. It has a quick and easy your roll versus my roll conflict mechanic and a small amount of stats and powers to make conflict resolution quick. Better Angels is a game where the players play villains, but even that is possible with most superhero RPGs.

What other superhero rpgs do not have is Better Angel’s character creation system. In most RPGs, each player builds their own character. In Better Angels, players create their character as a group, with players adjacent to you helping to designing major aspects of your character. Each player designs and implements the good parts of their character. However, the player next to him adds in all the vile, evil and awful things about the character. This unique character creation makes playing Better Angels a blast. The player next to you plays out the demon in you, and your character is always in conflict with this character. This weird game play makes for a fun game where you feel like you are arguing with yourself and attempting to push your own limits.

Outside of the actual game play, it should not be overlooked that the players are playing evil characters, and the book goes to great lengths to make sure players are playing comic book evil and not real life evil. The advice provided and campaign structure aids really help bridge the difficult gap it takes to run and play in an evil campaign. Because of the fun nature of Better Angels, the whole system feels more breezy than it actual is.

At 178 pages, book is pretty light for a single campaign book, a nice feature when you’re introducing a truly new system. The layout is spectacular, with everything from bookmarks to table of content fully linked and neatly organized. The art is gritty, but still possess that Iron Age of comics vibrant color look.

What is NOT Iron
The character creation can take a bit of time, and its important to make sure that each player understand the rules. There’s an example in the book of a player who just glossed over the system and ended up screwing over himself and making a less “conflicted” player next to him.

The Iron Word
Comic book fans who want to taste villainy in a system that is built for the bad guy should try out Better Angels. Character creation is a bit lengthy, but its worth it to play a character who is always fighting against his nature to lose control. I would love to see a system like this in a fantasy setting or as a supplement for other systems.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Better Angels
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Better Angels
by Stuart C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/10/2013 17:25:54
Good old fashioned supervillainy, and demonic corruption too.
Who can be the most eeeeevil?

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
GODLIKE Dice Rollers
by Matthew S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/29/2013 12:10:47
I was referrred to this product by a PC using friend. He really liked a couple of the rollers. I had hoped to use it on my iPad, but none of the rollers are capable of working on it because they are Windows based. I can use the java version on my Mac laptop. I don't dice roll on my laptop, so that's not really a solution. I don't use a PC so the majority of the dice rollers in this package are useless to me. Hopefully Arc Dream will make a Mac version.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
GODLIKE Dice Rollers
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Delta Green: Denied to the Enemy
by Jeffrey J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/09/2013 19:17:52
I very much enjoyed the book. I suppose if I took the time to think of every aspect I could come up with some criticisms, but as of now, I can't. For $1 you cannot go wrong with this book....If it was priced at $10 I might have given it 4 stars.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Delta Green: Denied to the Enemy
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GODLIKE: Superhero Roleplaying in a World on Fire, 1936-1946
by Robert S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/07/2013 22:56:01
Up for review this week is “Godlike,” a role-playing game designed by Pagan Publishing and released by Arc Dream Publishing.
The short version of that Godlike is a super heroes’ game set in the Second World War. It is not a four-color depiction of heroes, but a more plausible depiction of war and how superheroes would function in a war. By way of a movie comparison, it is not so much Captain America as it is Saving Private Ryan crossed with X-Men First Class.
Dennis Detwiller created Godlike and Greg Stolze is responsible for the game mechanics. Others involved include Allan Goodall, Shane Ivey and Jessica Hopkins.
One of Godlike’s few let down is the art – all of which is by Detwiller. It is predominantly photos from the Second World War… or edited photos from the Second World War. This does help to sell the tone and theme of the work, however it is also limiting and there are other ways to illustrate the game’s vibe. As such, the art is a disappointment.
To its credit, the book sports a solid table of contents and comprehensive index. It is also well organized, with chapters flowing logically, moving from general topics – such as a fairly standard “what is an RPG” and discussions of the many ways a character can die – to the specific, such as discussions of the powers available and even the kinds of standard rations available during the Second World War.
Within Godlike, super powers are called “miracles” and those who possess them are called talents.
Talents have the power to perform miracles, some great and some small, however they are soldiers first and thus are ultimately tools in a terrible war. Surviving and winning the war depend more on ability of a unit of talents to achieve their mission, rather than a single PC with the ability to kick the ass of every single German ever. This is a good and suits the game.
Less good is that the game is not amenable to a sandbox style of play.
Sandbox play requires several things, including openness, flexibility and of course 1,000 pounds of play quality sand. A game book does not have to provide the sand – that is usually available at your local hardware store - but it does have to provide openness and flexibility. Godlike has a lot going for it, a well executed work, solid mechanics, an intriguing premise and location. However, aside from that it is sadly inflexible.
Much of the book is devoted the an alternate time line for World War II, one which adheres as closely as possible to true events while still being a home to super powered people. So the Nazi’s army still breaks its teeth off on Stalingrad resistance by the winter of 1943, D-Day still happens on June 6th of 1944 and atomic bombs still destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945.
Only one small section about a third of the through chapter eight discusses changing things, and then only briefly and more or less serves to give permission to do this rather than providing any tools or ideas for such a thing. The section elsewhere in the book describing in detail the types of army rations employed in the war is longer than the section on changing the course of the war – though the army rations section is a bit of interesting trivia while a discussion of changing the war would have been useful in an actual game.
Godlike possesses one of the most comprehensive and useful game mechanics for creating and using super powers available on in the RPG market. It provides a framework for creating everything from standards such as great strength, flight and damage resistance to rarer stuff, such as physical transformation, the ability to play with inertia and teleportation. For example, with this mechanical system the particular inventive genius of characters like Lex Luthor, Dr. Doom and Reed Richards are actually a kind of super power. Lastly, in addition to a system for creating super powers, Godlike provides almost 50 example powers.
Various draws backs balance all the powers. Here are some examples; to fly a talent must get a running start of 30-feet, a talent may use a miracle to bind or grapple targets but only so long as they are looking at the targets, or a talent might transform themselves into a copy of a target, but only if they taste the blood of the target. The miracle devices, like those created by the games version of Lex Luthor, Dr. Doom and Reed Richards, only work when their creators are watching.
In any event, the flaws make sense and do much to sell the talents, the miracles and the concept of the game itself.
Further, talents can – under the right circumstances and with the right rolls – negate each others’ powers, reducing each other temporarily to a standard mortal. So a talent who creates arguably mediocre miracles can contend with a talent who creates so-called Godlike miracles.
Godlike employs a mechanic unofficially called the “one roll engine” – it does not appear to have an official name. It is a dice pool mechanic, using a fistful of 10 sided dice. A player rolls a number of dice matching the characters score in a stat. So, if the character has a five in strength then the player will roll five dice for something related to strength. Miracles work the same way and depending on what the player is attempting to do and the circumstances, the score stat score adds to a power score and maybe a skill score to determine the number of dice rolled. The maximum number of dice rolled is 10.
This on its own would be more or less a repeat of the Storytelling engine employed by White Wolf games. However, mechanic designer Stolze adds an interesting twist in the form of not just the “height” of a success but the “width” of a success. Specifically, the number of matching dice determines success in a roll. So rolling a nine is useless unless the roll also produces at least one other nine. Getting multiple matching dice is is the width of the success and of course higher matching dice is useful and having multiple matching dice – say you roll a pair of fours and a pair of sixes – also has an impact on the game.
The mechanic also includes features called wiggle dice and hard dice. Hard dice are always 10 and the player determines the value of a wiggle dice, presumably to match the result of the dice roll to create a matching pair or expand an existing matching set.
The damage system is also specific, with the possibility of characters having a mental breakdown due to combat stress or getting their legs shot out from under them and surviving… or not.
To wrap this up, Godlike mechanically is solid and the setting meticulously well researched. A term like “realistic” is misused when discussing RPGs while a better term is “plausible.” As presented here, the “Godlike” world is highly plausible and the mechanic supports the game well. Further, the book is well organized.
However, weak art and a lack of sandbox style of play holds it back, meaning in the end it gets a 15 on a d20 roll.
If you are interested in a game set in the Second World War, check out Godlike. If you are interested in a comprehensive system for super powers, then check out Godlike. If you want both, then play Godlike.
Godlike is available through Arc Dream Publishing.
* * *
Neither of my grandfathers served in the Second World War – they were too old – but I had an Great-Uncle who served in the European theater. He did not like to talk about it but he was one of the men at Normandy on D-Day. That invasion went on for hours and he was among a group that apparently made landfall after dark. As it was told to me, not all the injured soldiers had been retrieved by that point and he and the others went up the beach with and screams and moans of injured Americans calling to them from the darkness.
And they pressed on.
And won the war.
I miss my great Uncle Art.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
GODLIKE: Superhero Roleplaying in a World on Fire, 1936-1946
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